Monday, March 2, 2015


It is believed that the concept of parachute was firstly given by Leonardo da Vinci(1452-1519). The description of a parachute concept is found in da Vinci's notebooks along with a sketch.

Although da Vinci never made the device but his sketch consisted of a cloth material pulled tightly over a rigid pyramidal structure.

He is credited for the concept of lowering man to the ground safely using a maximum drag decelerator.
Croatian Faust Vrancic constructed a device based on Da Vinci's drawing and jumped from a Venice tower in 1617.

Faust Vrancic published Machinae Novae magazine in which he described in text and in picture form fifty-six advanced technical constructions, including Vrancic's parachute called the Homo Volans.

In 1783, Sebastian Lenormand jumped from a tower using a 14-foot diameter parachute. The first emergency use of a parachute was made by Jean Pierre Blanchard in 1785 after the hot air balloon exploded in which he was present.

Blanchard also worked on a foldable silk parachute, before then all parachutes were constructed with a rigid frame so cannot be folded.

On October 22, 1797, Andrew Garnerin become the first person to jump from hot air ballons as high as 8,000 feet in the air with a parachute without a rigid frame.

 As the parachute was coming down, severe oscillations were induced in the canopy. So he designed the first air vent in a parachute to reduce oscillations as suggested by Lalandes.

In 1890, Paul Letteman and Kathchen Paulus invented the method of folding or packing the parachute in a knapsak to be worn on the back before its release.

Kathchen Paulus was also behind the invention of the intentional breakaway, which is when one small parachute opens first and pulls open the main parachute.

The development of modern parachutes deployed at high speeds and high altitudes started in the 1930's. Knacke and Madelung developed the ribbon parachute in Germany for Ring sail parachute decelerating heavy high speed payloads.

After World War II,  Knacke invented the ring slot parachute which is used for moderate subsonic speeds. This parachute is used primarily for cargo delivery and aircraft deceleration.

By the late 1970's the parawing was replaced by the parafoil, invented in the middle 1960's by Domina Jalbert, a kite maker.

The parafoil or ram-air parachute is a deformable airfoil that maintains its shape by trapping air between two rectangle shaped membranes, sewn together at the trailing edge and sides, but open at the leading edge.

Several ribs are sewn to the inside of the upper and lower surfaces, maintaining an airfoil cross section in the spanwise direction.

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